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Michigan Ave street scene Chicago with old vintage antique cars 1950

A Bustling Michigan Avenue Street Scene In The Windy City

If you enjoy thirties-fifties automobiles, here is a circa 1950 Chicago, Illinois, street scene filled with them at the intersection of Michigan Boulevard and Monroe Street. We would guess that the photo was taken either late in the spring or early in the fall as a number of the women are wearing coats. One of the City’s finest seems to be directing traffic at a busy time during the day. Note the two large neon beverage signs and a single billboard in the background.

There are a large number of cars along with buses from the Chicago Motor Coach Company on the street that you can study (below) in the enlargeable images. Let us know what interests you here and the year of the newest and oldest cars in the IDOT photo that is courtesy of the UCI Digital Collections. Can any of our readers from Chicago tell us more about this area? You can also view a wide variety of vintage street scenes here on The Old Motor.

This image was found by Daniel Strohl at Hemmings Motor News, who has assembled a wide array of photos showing Automobile scenes in the Chicago area.

  •        A Chicago, Illinois, street scene at the intersection of Michigan Boulevard and Monroe Street.

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12 responses to “A Bustling Michigan Avenue Street Scene In The Windy City

  1. That is Grant Park on the right side of the photo. I also spotted a 49 Chrysler Convertible, probably a Windsor & a 50 Ford.

  2. We are facing North on Michigan Avenue. The building at the far end of the street is the Wrigley Building (Wrigley Chewing Gum). Across the street the building with the rooftop butresses, just behind the Coca-Cola sign, is the Chicago Tribune Tower.

    Grant Park is at the right of the photo. Unseen behind the photographer is the Art Institute, and two blocks further back is where the NFL’s Draft Town is currently located. Back in August 1933, during the Century of Progress Exposition, the Chicago Outdoor Automobile Show was held in the same location as Draft Town.

  3. That big honkin’ 1950 Buick Roadmaster really stands out in the oncoming traffic, but back by that second bus I detect either a ’51 (my guess) or ’52 Buick. There is also a Kaiser or Frazier about halfway back there. With that big beer sign on the right, I believe there is a major rail yard over that way.

  4. All of us look for interesting cars, but I also consider how the photo may have been made. First, this is no snapshot; it seems to have been made by a pro, probably a newspaper photographer. The image’s good detail indicates that he used a 4×5 camera, probably a Crown or Speed Graphic. The high viewpoint tells us he was well up in the air, perhaps on top of a truck or bus. Judging by the movement of the pedestrian’s feet and the departing car on the right, he set the shutter speed to about 1/50 second, mainly because he also wanted to use a small aperture to get maximum depth of field (sharp focus in foreground and background).

    • Frank, you are correct about your observations. The photos in this series were taken by the Illinois DOT, who likely had its own photographer or hired a professional to take them. Look for more images down the road.

  5. One can see the late ’40s model “A” checker. The bus is a TD 4505 GMC first built in 1946. The English model builder “Corgi” offered a limited edition of this bus several years ago.

  6. Like Mr. Ricewasser , I spotted the ’49 convertible at once. I think that it is a ’49 Desoto
    Custom convertible (probably quite rare). The Chryslers had much larger taillights and
    bigger trunk brake lights. Was also taken by the ’50 Chevy Fleetline ahead of it. This site
    is totally awesome, just one problem though, don’t know when I’ll ever find enough time
    to get all the way through it. Keep on keeping on please.

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